Moutohora: Island Sanctuary / Whale Island Tours
Moutohora (Whale Island) is one of New Zealand's little known treasures and home to a number of New Zealand's rare and endangered plants, birds and reptiles. Due to the precious nature of this pest free island access is highly restricted to the general public and the only way to visit the island is with a Department of Conservation approved concessionaire. We are privileged to be allowed to take a small number of visitors to the island each day.
Sitting only 9 kilometres off the coast of Whakatane the journey to Moutohora is just a short 15 minute boat ride aboard our comfortable catamaran "The Moutohora Cat". The Moutohora Cat allows for very easy access onto the island as it is able to nose onto the shore allowing you to descend a set of stairs directly onto the beach.
The fully guided tour of the island allows visitors to learn about the flora and fauna and the conservation effort focused on Moutohora for the past 50 years. The island is a bird lover's paradise, with the opportunity to see saddleback/tieke, kakariki/ red crowned parakeet, little brown kiwi, bellbirds, tui, grey warbler and many species of sea birds. We also visit the NZ fur seal colony for an up close look at these beautiful animals.
Our walk includes a visit to the island's saddle for spectacular views out to White Island and a visit to Sulphur Bay where there is a chance to dig your own hot pool on the beach where geothermal hot springs come up through the sand.
Our Moutohora / Whale Island tours operate on a daily basis however are subject to weather and demand.
- Moutohora: Island Sanctuary / Whale Island tours operate 7 days a week, weather and demand permitting.
- Bookings are essential.
- We recommend that children be at least 8 years of age however the final decision rests with the parent or caregiver. The minimum age is 4 years. Please see our FAQs page for more information.
- The tour is very weather dependent. We will confirm with you between 7pm and 8pm the night prior whether the tour is able to operate.
- Check-in is at White Island Rendezvous, 15 The Strand East, Whakatane. Check-in is required 30 minutes prior to your advised departure time.
- Tour departure times:
We aim to depart at 10am. However a number of factors such as weather, sea conditions and tides can affect this time. We will confirm departure time with you the night before your tour.
- Moutohora is a pest free island and a biosecurity clearance check is required before departure. Please see below for further details.
What to Bring
- Warm clothing for the boat ride and walk on the island
- Sturdy footwear for the walk. Sneakers/sand shoes are perfect. Jandals/thongs/flip flops are not suitable.
- Small backpack - biosecurity guidelines require all bags to be closable by zip. Drawstring and open bags are not suitable.
- Swimwear and towel (optional, should you wish to swim at the hot water beach)
- Sun protection – hat and sunscreen
Protecting Moutohora / Whale Island
- Moutohorā (Whale Island) is rodent and predator free. To keep it this way it is important for us to enforce strict bio-security checks on behalf of the Department of Conservation.
- Before arriving for your tour please check clothing, bags and shoes for soil and seeds. This is to prevent weed species becoming established on Whale Island.
- Backpacks and bags must be able to be sealed closed with a zip or similar device. Open bags are not permitted.
- Only packaged food is permitted on the island. No fruit or home grown produce is allowed. Food may be taken aboard the boat but must be in a sealed container or commercially packaged.
- Following check-in for your tour you will be directed to the bio-security Caravan on the wharf. Please try to bring as little as possible to the island.
- Inside the bio-security caravan you will be required to un-pack any bag you may have. Items will be inspected by a White Island Tours staff member to ensure that they do not inadvertently contain rodents, insects or seeds.
- You will be requested to dip the soles of your shoes into a water bath containing a strong disinfectant prior to boarding the boat.
- Whale Island is an extremely dry environment and as such there is a high fire risk. Please do not bring matches or lighters on the tour. Smoking is not permitted on the island or on the boat.
- All items taken to the island must be removed again.